Redbirds win MVC Championship game against Drake in exciting fashion

DES MOINES, Iowa – Tied 3-3, the 2022 Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Tennis Championship ended in the decision on Court #6 and it was ISU Elena Jankulovska who pulled off a thrilling three-set victory to clinch the match and the MVC Championship title for the Redbirds on Sunday afternoon at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center in Des Moines.

“It’s hard to find words after a win like this,” said ISU head coach Maja Kovacek mentioned. “The game went back and forth and it couldn’t have been closer at the end. It was the team’s ultimate win and I couldn’t be more proud of all of our players. There was so much of determination and fighting in them since the start of the tournament and I’m so happy to see their hard work paying off in the best possible way.”

Drake took the early lead by taking the doubles point, with wins at No. 1 and No. 2. They then picked up a singles win at No. 2 to take a 2-0 lead early in the match. However, the Redbirds would rally to win three consecutive singles matches to take a 3-2 lead.

Maria Potsi scored the first point of the game for the Redbirds, as they cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 win over third-seeded Daria Walczak to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 2-1. Penelope Abreu tied the game at 2-2, with her three-set victory over Darinka Stepan at No. 5 by a score of 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. The Redbirds then took the lead, as Tijana Zlatanovic defeated Liza Petushkova in straight sets 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 to make it 3-2 in favor of ISU.

A win at No. 4 by the Bulldogs tied the game at 3-3, leaving the decision to the No. 6 court. Drake’s Kelsey Neville won the first set 7-5, but Jankulovska fought back to take the second set in a 9-7 tiebreaker leaving the game and the championship for the third and final set. Neville took a 4-1 lead, but Jankulovska fought back to level it at 4-4. Neville then regained the lead at 5-4, before Jankulovska snatched three straight points to win the deciding third set 7-5 to clinch the match and the tournament title for the Redbirds.

The Redbirds will now wait to see where they will play in the NCAA Tournament, when the selection show airs May 2 at 5:30 p.m. CT on NCAA.com.

Final Results: Illinois State No. 2 (4), Drake No. 1 (3)

Simple:
1. Tijana Zlatanovic (ILS) def. Liza Petushkova (DU) 6-2, 1-6, 7-5
2. Ines Stephani (DU) def. Alexandra Abyasova (ILS) 6-4, 6-1
3. Maria Potsi (ILS) def. Daria Walczak (DU) 6-2, 6-3
4. Mille Haagensen (DU) beats. Tara Damnjanovic (ILS) 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
5. Penelope Abreu (ILS) def. Darinka Stepan (DU) 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
6. Elena Jankulovska (ILS) def. Kelsey Neville (DU) 5-7, 7-6 (9-7), 7-5

Double:
1. Liza Petushkova/Daria Walczak (DU) def. Tijana Zlatanovic/Tara Damnjanovic (ILS) 6-4
2. Ines Stephani/Rebecca Ehn (DU) def. Penelope Abreu/Maria Potsi (ILS) 6-3
3. Alexandra Abyasova/Laura Fitzgerald (ILS) against Mille Haagensen/Darinka Stepan (DU) 5-4 unfinished

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